Southwest CEO Gary Kelly to step aside, successor named

Robert Jordan will replace Gary Kelly as CEO

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly will become the airline’s executive chairman starting in early 2022. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 50.73 -0.81 -1.57%

The 66-year-old executive, who led the airline since 2004, will likely serve as chairman until at least 2026, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

Kelly’s replacement is company veteran Robert Jordan, Southwest’s current executive vice president of corporate services. Jordan’s official start date as CEO will be Feb. 1, 2022.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES OFFERS 50% OFF SALE AMID COMPUTER ISSUES, FLIGHT DELAYS

"On behalf of the Southwest Airlines Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce Bob Jordan as CEO. Bob and I have worked side by side for more than 30 years. He is a gifted and experienced executive and well-prepared to take on this important role," Kelly in a statement. "Working closely with President Tom Nealon and Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven, we will begin developing transition plans in the coming weeks and months. These three top-notch Leaders make for a powerful team to lead us forward."

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IMPLEMENTS AUTOMATION AMID LABOR SHORTAGE, RECRUITING CHALLENGES

Prior to Southwest’s announcement, Kelly reached a 35-year milestone with the company. He originally started as a controller and then moved up to higher roles, including chief financial officer and vice president of finance, executive vice president and vice-chairman. Kelly is an alumnus from the University of Texas at Austin and was once a CPA for Arthur Young & Company in Dallas and Controller for Systems Center, Inc.

AMERICAN AIRLINES JOINS SOUTHWEST IN DELAYING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE SALES AS PASSENGER VIOLENCE RISES   

Kelly’s successor, Jordan, has been with Southwest since 1988. The 60-year-old exec worked his way up through various roles, including director of revenue accounting, corporate controller, vice president of procurement, vice president of technology and more. At Southwest, Jordan was instrumental in the acquisition of AirTran Airways, the airline’s e-commerce platform and rewards program, according to the release.

Jordan is an alumnus from Texas A&M University. Before he joined Southwest, he was a programmer and financial analyst for Hewlett-Packard.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

"I'm humbled, honored, and excited to be asked to serve as the next CEO," Jordan said in his statement. "The Heart of Southwest is our People; they make the difference for our customers, and I look forward to serving them."